Assessment of Cycle III: pretty good. I was able to lift fairly consistently, between 4-6 times a week, and made steady improvements. Along the way, I tweaked my Iron Ratio a bit. It now looks a lot like it did at the end of 2015, with Squat progress once again leading the way, especially with respect to the Deadlift, which is a little easier than it needs to be. The idea is that Squats temper the rest of the body, so the other lifts' intensity should be perceived as a little less than the Squat intensity. This makes the other lifts relatively easy, and should also prevent injury. It seems virtually impossible to hurt myself on Squats, as long as I maintain a nice slow rate of increase. On Deadlifts, and to a lesser extent Bench Pressing, on the other hand, injury seems more likely, even on mundane sets with a good warm-up, and therefore it behooves me to do them a little lighter than I really can. So far, this strategy has worked, both in terms of preventing a recurrence of the Deadlift injuries I incurred late 2014/early 2015, but also in terms of ensuring all the lifts feel hard but doable every single set and rep. So there are benefits both physical and mental. It's crucial for me in order to maintain consistency that lifting doesn't feel like a mental burden. I only have the mental capacity to motivate for high intensity once or twice a week, and often feel completely unmotivated for any kind of lifting at all. But with my current, high frequency, low volume approach, it's important to maintain a moderate level of intensity so that it's easier or at least less of a burden to motivate mentally and easy to recover from physically every single workout. In Cycle III I wasn't able to establish an early morning routine, and I didn't pursue conditioning much at all. However, I was able to begin working in a little assistance stuff. Goals for Cycle IV: even better I will continue to work with my current high frequency, low volume approach, which is based on a Push/Pull split. It seems to work pretty well for me. Eventually, I may work in my weekly rep wave of 5/7/3 again, but for the time being doing the main lifts 3 x 3 every single time seems to be working just fine, and I really like the mental aspect of only having to complete three reps on every set. The current Iron Ratio is: Deadlift 1RM = 4.6 (normal = 4.8 or 5, according to a lot of experts) Squat 1RM = 4 Bench Press 1RM = 3 Overhead Press 1RM = 2 Pendlay Row 1RM = 2.66 Chinup 1RM = 3.33 or by weight, heaviest to lightest: Deadlift 1RM = 4.6 Squat 1RM = 4 Chinup 1RM = 3.33 Bench Press 1RM = 3 Pendlay Row 1RM = 2.66 Overhead Press 1RM = 2 This ratio will be achieved by the beginning of Week 3, once the presses catch up, if I'm able to work out six times a week. This can be seen in the new, simplified Excel chart I've been using since the middle of Cycle III: In this chart, all the embedded formulas expressing the Iron Ratio are based on the Squat 1RM. The Squat 1RM is increased one pound for each iteration of the Push/Pull Split. The other lifts increase in accordance to the Squat increase, so that, for example, the Overhead Press, at a 1:2 ratio to the Squat, increases a half pound per split. All loads are rounded up to the nearest pound however. The 3RM for each lift is determined by simply taking 90% of each lifts' 1RM, after it has been derived via the Squat load and Iron Ratio. Adjustments are easy make, by simply manipulating the Squat numbers. Everything else falls into line. So if I slow the rate of increase for the Squat, the rate of increase for the other lifts will automatically adjust. Until the presses catch up however, some time in the third week if all goes well, the Overhead Press will also increase by one pound per split, and the Bench Press will increase by two pounds per split. The simplified chart makes it easy to fit an entire cycle onto a single page, easy to print out, and easy to look forward or backward in the Cycle(s). During this cycle I will try harder to work in conditioning, even if this means slowing down the rate of progress on the main lifts. I may hold off, however, until the presses have caught up. Not sure if I will make any real attempt at working out first thing, although in my heart of hearts I know it's the way to go. ---------------Week 1: Cycle IV--------------- Sunday, 17.06.18 Mini-golf on Father's day. I was supposed to do my Pull workout first thing, left over from Cycle III, but it was the last thing I wanted to do when I woke up. Just wanted to hang out with the family. So I skipped it, since it's a little lite now anyway--after reducing the DL-to-Squat ratio, as well as the Pendlay Row-to-Squat ratio--and will start off the cycle with the first Push workout listed in the above Excel spreadsheet. This way my presses will still catch up by the end of second week of the cycle if I can keep consistent. Monday, 17.06.19 Late afternoon, Anytime Fitness: June workout 12 Lifting: Push SQ: 3/3/2 @ 269 lbs, 1RM = 299 lbs OP: 3 x 3 @ 131 lbs, 1RM = 150 lbs BP: 2 x 3 @ 196 lbs, 1RM = 224 lbs Only slept four hours, so my mind wasn't really into it, but my body did just fine. I've found that a little sleep deprivation doesn't really affect lifting. Dehydration and poor fueling are much bigger factors. On the second set of the Squats, I almost stalled on the third rep, as my mind was completely elsewhere. Had to refocus to get it up, but was still able to maintain good form. On the third set I just did two reps. The last Push workout of Cycle III went well, so missing a rep here or there won't affect overall progress I think. That's the thing with setting the rate of increase in microloading. If it's done correctly, then no one workout should matter too much, and a bad workout here, or a missed workout there, is completely forgivable since the progressive loading rate should always be a little slower than one's true rate of adaptation to the stress anyway. OP was hard but doable. On the Bench my wrist felt a little sore on the second set, so I skipped the third. The Bench continues to be my strongest lift, so no big deal if I skip some or even all of it in a given workout. Tuesday, 17.06.20 Wednesday, 17.06.21 Argh, things came up, and I was really up for a good lifting session. Thursday, 17.06.22 I found this earlier in the day, while looking for input on a good Pendlay Row percentage of my Squat or Bench: https://symmetricstrength.com/standards#/220/lb/male/55 These ratios are very close to my current Iron Ratios, including the Pendlay row, but excluding my Chinup, which is weak in comparison. It's cool that he covers all the basic lifts too, so a good resource. I think I came across this several years ago, but then forgot about it. According to his ratings, I'm currently Proficient (taking body weight at 220, discounting 30 pounds of fat), so I guess the goal for this year would be to get up to Advanced, which projects to mid-November, according to my Excel chart. Accounting for a probable slowing rate of increase, as well as inadvertent but inevitable time off and illness, it might be just possible to make it by the end of the year. That would be about a 360-pound Squat and a 415-pound Deadlift.That might be close to my age-adjusted genetic limit, but if not, it would be tempting to dedicate 2018 to getting up to his Exceptional ranking, which he suggests is pretty much everyone's genetic maximum without juicing or elite genetics. I always feel ambivalent about becoming too goal-oriented, but the actual practice of chasing goals tends to be pretty Zen. I really only focus on each set and rep once I'm actually lifting. The overthinking happens before or after. I also spent a little time over lunch watching Rippetoe's Press video, to check my technique before loads get serious again. I definitely need to tweak it a bit, but it's funny, the sore wrist did indeed force me to improve my grip technique already. Now I do it pretty much as Rip recommends. ----- Late afternoon, Anytime Fitness: June workout 13 Lifting: Push SQ: 3 x 3 @ 270 lbs, 1RM = 300 lbs OP: 3/2/3 @ 132 lbs, 1RM = 150 lbs BP: 2 x 3 @ 198 lbs, 1RM = 225 lbs Squat went up easy, but the presses were hard. I failed a rep on the Overhead Press after I almost lost spinal stability on the rep prior. For some reason, I decided to take off my lever belt after the squats. I usually keep it on for the OP then take it off for the BP. I also struggled a bit to complete reps on the BP, a first for that happening since getting back to it in 2017. Maybe skipping the third set of the BP the last several times is starting to slow my progress, but I skipped it once again today as my right wrist felt a little sore and I wasn't sure if I was going to be able to get through a third set anyway. So that's interesting: As my presses approach their true iron ratios, based on the Squat, they're starting to feel harder, just as they should. This is the second time I've skipped my Pull workout in order to keep up the pace towards having all of the Push lifts align with the Iron Ratio by Week 3 of this cycle. Maybe having skipped the upper body chinups and rows for almost a week also affected my presses? Maybe I was paying too much attention to my technique, after watching the Rip video earlier in the day? I was also too lazy to bring in my own bar from the car, and the one I ended up using seemed significantly thicker, like over 30mm in diameter, so that also could've been a factor. Anyway, we'll see how it goes next Push workout. It's pretty funny that the Bench Press, which used to always be my strongest lift, is now close to my weakest. Cool that all the 1RMs for this workout had such round numbers--300, 225, 150. I've officially reached my old Bench Press threshold of 225 (in theory at least; in practice, it won't happen until next week when my 3RM finally catches up). For the longest time, in my "youth" (20s to 40s), a 225 1RM BP seemed to be the goal, until I reached 260 a few years ago. Now I'm gunning for my old 1RMs in the Squat (315) and Press (160) at the end of this cycle. Won't reach my BP PR until October or later. Friday, 17.06.23 Saturday, 17.06.24 Bike Commute: 4.5 mi. Mid morning, Anytime Fitness: June workout 14 Lifting: Push SQ: 1/2/2/2 @ 275 lbs, 1RM = 305 lbs OP: 3 x 2 @ 135 lbs, 1RM = 152 lbs BP: 2 x 3 @ 200 lbs, 1RM = 226 lbs Conditioning: Sled Push, 3 laps x 200 lbs. For some reason I became impatient with the fractional plates/microloading. Plus I decided it was time to finally start working in the conditioning component. I had already biked to the gym and planned on starting up the Prowler Push again. So I thought I'd just round up the plates to two 45s and a 25 on the Squat, and one 45 on the Press. I continued microloading on the Bench just because it felt a little too hard last time, and I wasn't near any easy 25- or 45-pound increments anyway, but both the Squat and Press were tantelyzing close. I only did two reps on the Squat and Press, just to see how I'd react to the minor jump and also to make sure I had enough gas for the Prowler and wouldn't get too sore the next day due to the sudden introduction of biking and sled work. Both the Squat and Press felt solid and I could've probably done three-rep sets, but it doesn't matter. I have a week to reach 3x3, if I continue following my Excel projections. So then that got me thinking about progressing in five-pound increments again. It's kind of a drag carrying the fractional plates around, especially on the bike, especially when carrying the bike up stairs. I could do it by reps, starting with three reps or something, then building up to four or five reps across sets before it was time to increase the load. I dunno. We'll see how I feel. This might be an easy way to introduce some variation in rep-counts without having to think about it too much. ---------------Week 2: Cycle IV--------------- Sunday, 17.06.25 Bike Commute: 2 mi. Yardwork Monday, 17.06.26 I spent some time in the morning working out a progressive overload approach based on increasing reps, starting at 5 x 3, then adding a rep each time, until I get to 5 x 5: 3/3/3/3/3 > 3/3/3/3/4 > 3/3/3/4/4 > and so on. It would take 11 workouts to get from three to five reps acros. Then I would project the new 1RM by assuming the 5RM load is 85% of it, and then recalculate the 3RM as 90% of that, and start all over again. The funny thing is, the rate of progress would be almost exactly the same as my current microloading approach of adding one pound to the Squat 1RM for each iteration of the Push/Pull split. Then in the afternoon while picking up the kids my younger brother called and told me our mother was barely responsive. When I got there we took her to the hospital (my strength training came in handy as it was very easy to lift her out of her chair into the wheelchair, and then out of it into the car.) After an evening of tests, the next morning we found out she had a kidney stone that was blocking urine from passing from one kidney to the bladder. The kidney became swollen and infected as a result, and then began leeching toxins/bacteria into the blood stream, which then began attacking the whole body. One operation and a course of anti-biotics later, and she's doing as well as someone with dementia and old-age infirmities can do. A full recovery, or what the doctors more accurately call "a return to baseline," is expected. The lesson for the week, other than to try to stay in decent shape for as long as possible, was, once again, that only a first-thing-in-the-morning workout routine will ever allow me to deal with these sort of family crises and general happenstance. So later in the week when things had calmed down and I had time for my afternoon workouts again, I blew them off in order to start doing them first thing in the morning. Now it's the Fourth of July and I've gone more than a week without lifting. ---------------Week 3: Cycle IV--------------- Bike Commute: 2 mi. Tuesday, 17.07.04 Wednesday, 17.07.05 Thursday, 17.07.06 Bike Commute: 2 mi. Friday, 17.07.07 Bike Commute: 2 mi. Saturday, 17.07.08 ---------------Week 4: Cycle IV--------------- Sunday, 17.07.09 Tried squatting on my garage gym rack. After a year and a half without using it, it felt very narrow and I lacked the shoulder mobility I used to have due to my using a wider grip in order to baby my sore right wrist. Monday, 17.07.10 Tuesday, 17.07.11 Wednesday, 17.07.12 Found two Rogue S-1 squat stands on Craigslist. Thursday, 17.07.13 Friday, 17.07.14 Bought a Rogue S-1 squat stands on Craigslist. Saturday, 17.07.15 Took a nap instead of dissembling the old rack and assembling the squat stand. It was a rare occasion when I had the house to myself for a few hours, so nap. ---------------Week 5: Cycle IV--------------- Sunday, 17.07.16 Monday, 17.07.17 Tuesday, 17.07.18 Wednesday, 17.07.19 First part of my Rogue order arrived. Two-day shipping. Thursday, 17.07.20 Second part of my Rogue order arrived. Three-day shipping. Friday, 17.07.21 Saturday, 17.07.22 Finished re-arranging the garage gym. I like the extra space and simplified set-up. Now just have to cut extra post section on top in order to install the chinup cross-pipe. I'll take some pics when it's all done and I've finished clearing out some of the gear I never use. Time to put it on Craigslist, like the weighted vest and 1" trap bar. I want the garage to reflect my simple 3x3x6 (sets/reps/lifts) routine. I got a sled with my order as well. I'll try to take it out on its maiden grate tomorrow. ---------------Week 6: Cycle IV--------------- Sunday, 17.07.23 Monday, 17.07.24 Tuesday, 17.07.25 Wednesday, 17.07.26 Late afternoon, Garage Gym Lifting: Push SQ: 3 @ 45/95/135 SOP (Seated Overhead Press): 3 @ 45/95 lbs Conditioning: Mini Golf It was my wife's birthday, and she and our son were home, so didn't get much of a workout in, but at least I got something in. I could feel my quads stretch on the squats, so priming lightly for a few days is probably the way to go anyhow. It felt real nice to have the extra room of the new Squat stand. I think I made the right decision to replace the old, cheap 'fitness' power rack I got used a few years ago. The Seated Overhead Press felt a little awkward though. I might still try to do them outside when it's clement. I bought an old industrial steel chair on Craigslist and it works just as well as a dedicated adjustable bench or Press chair, but it does feel a bit unnatural to put anything heavy overhead while seated. Getting into bodybuilder territory of awkward angles. Or I could go back to the Kneeling OP, but I wonder if that's bad for my bad knees. Thursday, 17.07.27 Evening Conditioning: Several miles cycling with the kids to and thru the fairgrounds. Friday, 17.07.28 Late afternoon, Garage Gym Lifting: Push SQ: 2 x 3 @ 185 SOP: 2 x 3 @ 95 lbs BP: 2 x 3 @ 135 The priming on Wednesday definitely helped. My quads didn't feel stretchy this time and my shoulders were less cranky on the presses. So I'll probably spend another couple of workouts just building up slowly. The Seated Overhead Press felt less awkward this time. The Bench felt fine and it sure was nice having the extra room between the posts. I considered blowing off the workout as it had been a long day and the garage was hot, but I'm glad I got it in. It's funny though, I enjoyed my month off from obsessively thinking about load increases. I'm not quite back on that train, but I have a feeling I'll be boarding soon. Saturday, 17.07.29 ---------------Week 7: Cycle IV--------------- Sunday, 17.07.30 Monday, 17.07.31 Late afternoon, Garage Gym Lifting: Push SQ: 2 x 3 @ 225 SOP: 3 @ 95/105/115 lbs BP: 2 x 3 @ 185 Increased the loads, everything felt OK, but the Seated Overhead Press felt awkward at 115. I think the seated OP takes out the lower body pretty much, including the gluts, and this leads to instability in the trunk/core. I may give the clean-to-overhead-press outside the garage door idea a try, or try the Tall Kneeling Overhead Press again. Next time I should be due for a full 3x3 Push workout though, so progress was made. Rather than rebelling, my body seems happy to be resisting gravity again. Tuesday, 17.08.01 Mid afternoon, Garage Gym Lifting: Pull DL: 2 x 3 @ 275 lbs Rw: 3 x 3 @ 135 lbs Chinup: 2 x 3 @ Green band assist Finally got a Pull workout in. My right ankle had a little niggle--probably the squats from the day prior--so I took it pretty easy, just primed. The band-assisted chinups didn't feel right. Too much help at the bottom, not enough at the top. So I'll have to figure that out. I think I could make a weight-assisted contraption with cables, but I could also lose the 25-30 pounds I need assistance getting up. Evening: 3-4 miles biking with the kids to and fro and around the fairgrounds. Wednesday, 17.08.02 Thursday, 17.08.03 Friday, 17.08.04 Saturday, 17.08.05 Decided that band-assisted pullups aren't really going to work. So I spent the afternoon (1) getting lumber to build a cable pulldown attachment for my new rack and to attach coasters to my sled. Then (2) had to clear space elsewhere for the bicycles that rapidly accumulated around my new set-up. Then (3) cut the lumber. By then it was dinner time, so no workout. Having family around really slows things down. ---------------Week 8: Cycle IV--------------- Sunday, 17.08.06 Mid-morning, bike ride 11 miles. Felt good to go on a bike ride again. I was listening to my guitarist's 42-minute edit of our last jam. I had a smile on my face the whole way. Monday, 17.08.07 Tuesday, 17.08.08 Wednesday, 17.08.09 Finally got the cable addition built. It looks sturdy enough, but I'd feel better if it was built out of metal instead of wood. The kids like it at least. Thursday, 17.08.10 Finished the coasters for the sled. Friday, 17.08.11 Saturday, 17.08.12 AM bike commute 2 mi. That's a wrap. The cycle started out promising and I felt primed for a good one, then I let externalities intervene.